"At times, our own light goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person." Albert Schweitzer
Theologian, musician, philosopher, physician and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer was born in Kaisersberg, Alsace-Lorraine in 1875 (at that time part of the German Empire). His father and maternal grandfather were ministers and both of his grandfathers were talented organists. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy in 1899 from the University of Strasbourg with a dissertation on the religious philosophy of Kant. He received his theology license in 1900 and served in various high ranking administrative posts in the Theological College of St Thomas at the University of Strasbourg from 1901 to 1912. In 1906 he published The Quest of the Historical Jesus, a book on which much of his fame as a theological scholar rests.
Meanwhile, he pursued a distinguished musical career. His earnings from his professional engagements as an organist (which continued up until his mid-eighties) paid for his education, his medical schooling and for his African hospital.
Having decided to go to Africa as a medical missionary rather than as a pastor, Schweitzer began studying medicine in 1905. In 1913, having obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Strasbourg, he founded his hospital at Lambaréné in French Equatorial Africa (now the Gabon). In 1917, he and his wife were sent to a French internment camp as prisoners of war. Released at the end of the war, Schweitzer asked for, and was awarded, French nationality according to his Alsacian ancestries. He spent the next six years in Europe, preaching, giving lectures and concerts, taking medical courses and writing On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, Civilization and Ethics, and Christianity and the Religions of the World.
He returned to Lambaréné in 1924 and, except for relatively short periods of time, spent the remainder of his life there. With the funds earned from his own royalties and personal appearance fees and with those donated from all parts of the world, he expanded the hospital to seventy buildings which by the early 1960s could take care of over 500 patients in residence at any one time.
He received numerous honors, including the prestigious Germany literary prize, the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt; the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize; and honorary doctorates from many universities for one or another of his achievements.
He died in September 1965 and was buried at Lambaréné.
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